Gut microbiota health linked to bacterial infections

A new study, led by the University of Glasgow, has found that disease-causing bacteria were taking signals from the host’s gut microbiota in order to spread and progress infection.

Using Citrobacter, a bacterium that infects mice and is a model for the human pathogen, E. coli, researchers were able to see that the bacteria were using signals produced from the microbiota to trigger the disease process and develop a prolonged infection. Image of gut microbiota

This is the first time scientists have been able to understand the process of Citrobacter infection inside a host, rather than in laboratory settings, allowing a much greater understanding of the key role played by the gut’s microbiota in the process.

Andrew Roe, Professor of Molecular Microbiology, within the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, and lead author of the study, commented: “Our work focuses on understanding exactly how bacteria cause disease within animals. Through Citrobacter we have been able to show the key role played by the microbiota and how bacteria such as E. coli might use host signals to spread and increase infection.”

First published: 10 December 2018